An exam year like no other

Cllr Tony Ball portrait
Cllr Tony Ball

For lots of young people, parents and carers, this week would have brought feelings of anticipation, nervousness and excitement at what’s to come, as pupils across the county received their A-Level and GCSE results. This week may have even brought back memories of our own results day and how nervous we felt in the lead up to collecting our grades.

Whether A-Level or GCSE, both results days this year have been unusual for a few reasons. Not only is GCSE results day earlier than usual, 2021 is also the second year in a row that pupils’ grades for both GCSE and A-Levels have been determined by their teachers, rather than formal exams. I’m sure no one would have predicted that following the extraordinary decision made last year to cancel these exams due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we would be in a similar situation one year on.

However, despite the unusual circumstances in which pupils have received their grades this year, I am proud to say that there is something that has remained the same. That is the unwavering resilience they have all shown throughout the past 18 months as they have continued to navigate unique and ever-changing situations, that no other generation has ever gone through.

Like the one before, the last school year has been extremely difficult for lots of pupils – and indeed their families - who have experienced more disruption, significant time out of the classroom and uncertainty over whether their exams would take place this summer. As a result, I know I won’t be alone when I say how extremely proud I am of how pupils have adapted and the way in which education colleagues have continued to support them.

Teaching and other education colleagues across Essex have risen to the challenges of the past year time and again. Their steadfast commitment to supporting young people is unparalleled and I would like to thank them for the additional work they have had to do this year to determine pupils’ grades. I hope that this summer our education colleagues take a moment to reflect on the positive difference they have made to pupil’s experience of education during the pandemic.

I wish everyone who has received their results the very best of luck as they decide on their next steps. This week, whatever their grades, marks a significant stepping-stone in their lives. I hope that whatever they decide to do next, they feel confident in their ability to rise to the challenge, as they have done throughout the last year.

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